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Research Tutorial: Picking a Topic

Step 1: Identify a Topic

  • Discuss your topic ideas with your class instructor
  • Discuss your topic ideas with a UC Reference Librarian
    • Drop by for an informal discussion, or, Request a Research Appointment for individual assistance.
  • Browse journals that specialize in the subject area or discipline related to your topic area
    • Browse the E-Journal Portal by subject
    • A UC Librarian can also help you find journals in your topic area
  • Browse encyclopedias or indexes in the subject area or discipline related to your topic area
    • Use UC Library's Online Resources tool to help you find databases and other online resources
    • A UC Reference Librarian can help you find appropriate resources
  • State your topic idea as a question
    • For example, to find out about the use of alcoholic beverages by college students, you might pose the question, "What effect does use of alcoholic beverages have on the health of college students?"
  • Identify the main concepts or keywords in your question
    • In the example above, some keywords are alcoholic beverages, health, and college students

 

 

Step 2: Testing Your Topic

Testing your topic will help you see what kind and how much information is available.

  • Search your keywords in a database, the Library Catalog, and the E-Journal Portal
    • Use UC Library's Online Resources tool to find databases and other online resources
    • A UC Librarian also can help you select the right resources for your topic

Too Much Information

  • Try narrowing your topic by using the "and" operator:
    • Example: beer and health and college students

Too Little Information

  • Try broadening your topic
    • For example, search for the keyword "students" rather than "college students"
  • Consider synonyms to use in place of keywords
    • Example: search for "beer" and "wine" in place of "alcoholic beverages"

 

 

Reproduced and adapted with permission from: Reference Department; Instruction, Research, and Information Services (IRIS); Cornell University Library